birthday party hunger games style

May 11th, 2012

so last sunday was my official birthday celebration. my husband organized the food – all from the hunger games! our appetizers were goat cheese with chives and walnuts over toasted bread topped with raspberries, and “rabbit sticks” aka mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto. we also had goat cheese and basil leaves to put atop our biscuits. the salad was dandelion greens (just kidding. wegmans doesn’t carry dandelion greens) with a “tracker jacker dressing” which was made of honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, shallots and garlic. it was crazy yummy. our main dish was chicken later skewered on sticks. to end the meal we had “cupcakes on fire” (and those turned out to be more like “glimmer’s cupcakes” … do you know how hard it is to get icing to actually be red?!) and honey pudding – vanilla pudding with “nightlock” berries, honey, and crushed ginger cookies.

it was a lovely way to spend a sunday afternoon. and it forced us to clean our house.

of course, i didn’t take any pictures of people. once i started eating, i wasn’t stopping!

one of fifty two: the great gatsby

May 5th, 2012


started: Tuesday, May 1

finished: Saturday, May 5

if i could start college all over again, i think i might have fancied studying to be a high school lit teacher. sitting around, talking about the green light, the valley of ashes, and Gatsby’s dreams makes me swoon a bit. of course, the raging hormones, pimples, and foul-mouthed teenagers do turn me off. but i digress.

while first reading this novel in 11th (or was it 12th) grade, i remember loving the manner in which Fitzgerald described Daisy Buchanan.

“I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth – but there was an excitement in her voice that men who cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen”, a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.” (pg. 25)

while i had a vivid memory of Daisy, i can’t say that i remembered all of the other details, but i was once again taken back to the roaring twenties and those gorgeous summer parties thrown by Gatsby. in my head, the lawn is the most lush green possible. and there are low, well-trimmed hedges that outline the lawn. all of the women are wearing beautiful evening gowns and throwing their heads back in laughter while nursing a sidecar. the men are wearing pastel suits, one hand holding a cigarette, the other on the small of the back of the lady who accompanied them. it was all so mysterious and romantic. and that is what a great novel does. it takes you to another time and place. with people who you would never have the chance to meet otherwise.

the web woven between Daisy, Tom, Myrtle, Wilson, Jordan, Nick, and Gatsby makes the modern day soap operas blush. the novel is filled with scandal, lies, and tragedy. and you see what men will do for women that they love. women, who are in one way or another, taken from them.

i am so glad that this was my first book of my fifty two. if you haven’t read this since high school, by golly, read it again! when there aren’t assignments and deadlines looming over your head, you can truly appreciate the book for what it is. and that, my dear, is up to you.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”     (pg. 154)

twenty seven

May 1st, 2012

exactly one week ago, i turned 27. honestly, it didn’t really appeal to me. it’s creepily close to 30 without feeling accomplished. how old are you? 27? so …? meh.

so instead of having the birthday blues, i decided this year would be a particularly good one. enter: the birthday list.*

i made a list of twenty seven things to do before i turn 28. some of them are just silly. some are pretty serious. and some are just things that i want to get done/change. so i’ll share some and i’ll be sure to update you on my progress.

one. read 52 books.

yes. you read that right. 52. that’s one per week. so far i’ve picked up two from the library – the great gatsby (f. scott fitzgerald) and a desirable residence (madeleine wickham). the classics and chic lit. i am obviously ALL over the place. i’ve also taken two recommendations from my sister-in-law – wonder (r.j. palacio) and the fault in our stars (john green). that leaves 48 more books to be discovered. i’ve decided i can reread books. that totally counts because this time around i’m going to be blogging about each, per the wonderful suggestion of a friend. it will hopefully become a weekly post. p.s. anyone wanna start a book club??

four. get a tattoo.

and then hide said tattoo from my parents. haha. just kidding. well, sort of. no, not really. i have two ideas. i’m just not sure of the placement, which will totally depend on how much certain areas of your body hurt whilst getting inked.

six. audition for community theater.

i loved theater in high school. i attempted to try out in college, but let’s be serious, chica was a teeeeeny tiny fish in the huge pond that is Penn State and she got discouraged. well, discouragement be damned! and i’ll be versatile because, according to my co-workers, i could pass for a 12 year old.

twelve. swim in the ocean.

the fact that it’s even on the list should give you an indication as to the last time that i did this. it was literally years ago and that makes my heart ache. it will not, under any circumstances, be the ocean off the coast of n.j. (sorry, Snooki).

thirteen. train our dog to stop barking at every blessed thing.

i’ve heard this can be done. so i am going to try my darndest. she has this particularly piercing bark when she spies a cat. 1. it makes everyone’s ears bleed within a 15 mile radius and 2. it’s embarassing. like, people stare and i’m tired of being judged because our miniature dachshund thinks she’s a rottweiler (or some equally intimidating and large dog). it’s horrifying and needs to stop.

eighteen. send more snail mail.

c’mon. tell me you don’t jump for joy when you go to your mailbox and get good mail? if that’s just me, then i’m ashamed. but if it isn’t, i hope to bring some joy jumping to those i love.

twenty three. read the whole Bible.

the jury is still out on whether or not this will be considered one of 52. but i’ve always wanted to do it. the books where blah blah begat blah blah might be a little hard to get through, but i’d love to do it!

twenty seven. learn to walk in heels.

without looking like a fool. i don’t intend on wearing them all that often because i feel weird being that tall, but i would like to successfully navigate an aisle or hallway without fearing for my life.

358 days left. to accomplish 27 things. let’s do this thang!

*birthday list idea first found on a beautiful mess.

photo: taken with my iPhone and edited with picmonkey. written while listening to: starting line and fall out boy.

picmonkey coolness

April 14th, 2012

so i never used picnik (and oh yeah, google bought it and is shutting it down) for any photo editing, but i had recently heard about picmonkey and decided to give it a try. here’s what came of an afternoon messing around with all the neat things they have to offer.

from our 2011 trip to Nantucket

somewhere near Central Park

another Nantucket shot

the Metropolitan Museum of Art – i have no idea why i look so sullen

and my favorite of all …

Addie posing for our 2011 Christmas card

i will TOTES be using picmonkey now. seriously. it’s so awesome! and right now even their “royal” effects are free. wooooot! go try it out for yourself!

excuse me while i fangirl (part 1 of 2)

March 26th, 2012

*spoiler alert* if you haven’t seen the movie yet, i wouldn’t read this. and if you haven’t read the books yet, go buy them. right now. and take the next 2 days off from life. seriously.


where do i even begin?? first off, i will be the first to admit that i jumped on the bandwagon kind of late. my SIL and bff had read them soon after they came out and i just could not get behind the premise. teenagers? in an arena? fighting to the death? but boy were my eyes opened to YA. seriously, y’all. i read Hunger Games and Catching Fire in less than 24 hours while vacationing with the fam in nantucket last october. i waited a few months to read Mockingjay. i just didn’t want it to end and if i didn’t read it, it wouldn’t. but i read it. and i died. from henceforth, this series will be known as my favorite of all time. i don’t know how it could get any better than this.

this weekend (known in our house as Hunger Games weekend), i saw it twice. friday night with the husband and then sunday afternoon with the husband, the SIL and the bff. boy am i glad my husband is just as crazed about it as i am, well, not as crazed about Peeta, but you get the idea. i couldn’t have imagined seeing it with anyone else.

Katniss: jennifer lawrence is the bomb. without a doubt, could not have come up with a better person to portray the character.  she so beautifully captured her spirit. her resolve. her strength. and her teenage angsty confusion. (not to mention she’s beautiful and has a smokin bod. i will totally be climbing trees and running around the woods behind my parents house this summer in an attempt to look like her.) her interactions with the other characters were spot on – her tenderness with Prim and Rue, the walls she had up around Peeta, her obvious comfort with Gale, her anger toward her mother. so so so good.

Gale: liam hemsworth. pretty boy central. let it be known, well known, that i am Team Peeta (we even made shirts), but i couldn’t bring myself to dislike movie Gale. book Gale is more angry and bitter and you get the sense that he could explode at any moment. liam took Gale in a slightly different direction. he was more hopeful and dare i say, goofy. he obviously doesn’t have a large role in this first installment, but i thought he did a nice job. he’s entirely too good looking, but whatevs.

Haymitch: so woody harrelson would not have been my first choice. in my head Haymitch was more of a Mad-Eye Moody type character. much more slovenly and disheveled. but the dude killed it. i was afraid that Haymitch might come across too comical because of the whole drunkard thing, but it was much more subtle in the movie and that i appreciated. and the way he called Katniss “sweetheart”. perfection.

Caesar Flickerman: stanley tucci, i must tip my hat to you. amazing. nailed it. i felt like i was watching the olympics with bob costas. he made the games seem like such a normal thing. as if teenagers killing each other could ever be normal. and his interview with Peeta. i can’t even. we’ll talk about that in Part 2. how ryan seacrest ever thought he could pull that role off is beyond me.

Effie Trinket: cotton candy perfection. even the way she walked was the way i imagined it in my head. bravo, elizabeth banks, bravo.

Cinna: HOLY AMERICAN WOMAN BATMAN! i loved lenny kravitz as Cinna. his relationship with Katniss is so tender. he knows that what he does with her can help her to survive and he takes that job very seriously. “i’m not allowed to bet, but if i could, i’d bet on you”.

President Snow: so i totally pictured donald sutherland in my head from the get go. the casting director and i obviously share a brain and we should be real life friends. he, again, was perfection. i’m so glad he had a larger role in the movie. and i’m so glad that most of his scenes took place in his genetically altered rose garden. President Snow is such a vile creature, but he doesn’t think of himself that way. and donald totally got that spot on.


Peeta: sigh. i don’t know if i even have the words to describe how much i love josh hutcherson’s portrayal of Peeta. he IS Peeta. he wears his heart on his sleeve. he doesn’t hide his fear when Effie calls out his name. he doesn’t hide his excitement when he sees the Capitol through the window on the train. he doesn’t hide his shame when he falls off that climbing contraption during training. it’s all there on his face and you always know where you stand with him. and his love for Katniss. it’s so evident that you just want to jump through the screen and shake her for being so stubborn and yes, i’ll say it, stupid. don’t worry, there will be more gushing in Part 2.

we still are

November 8th, 2011

As a Penn State graduate, the recent allegations and scandal have simply broken my heart. I weep for the boys whose innocence was brutally taken from them. I’m horribly saddened to see the most beloved football coach’s career end in a way that none of us ever imagined. But mostly I’m angry. Angry at these few who are ruining an institution that helped to shape who I am today.

These men who were put in a position of power and who abused it. They valued money and reputation over a human life. And not just one, but possibly many. Many who have scars that will never fully heal. How could they? How have they lived with themselves? How can they possibly think that what they were doing was right? And how did it go so far?

I bleed Blue and White. I stood by the football team when there wasn’t much to stand for. And when there was, I cheered louder than I ever have before. I walked the halls of Willard and Thomas and Henderson with pride. I worshiped at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. I lived in West Halls. I volunteered for THON where I witnessed such an outpouring of love and support for kids with cancer. I realized my passion for helping kids and their families while on that campus. My husband proposed to me in State College. Those four years were some of the best I have yet to encounter. And why? Because I believed. I believed in the football team, in the staff, in the professors, and in the university.

For those of you who did not go to Penn State, this might all just seem silly. But the pain, not only for the victims and their families, but for this great university, are felt by hundreds of thousands. It doesn’t seem real. This couldn’t have happened. I still am unable to wrap my head around it all.

But we cannot let the fault of a few ruin what we all hold so dear. Yes, we are crushed, saddened, disappointed, and angry. I know that I’ve questioned so much since this all broke on Saturday. But let this bring us together. As alumni and as human beings. Let us rally around for those victims and families whose hearts are broken in ways that we cannot imagine. Pray that justice will be served and that healing can begin. And pray that Happy Valley can be happy once again.

We Still Are.


March 13th, 2011

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it’s a little victory

January 27th, 2011

i thought of this song today. life has been neither easy nor smooth sailing as of late. but the beauty and honesty of this song brought a little smile to my heart.

my dad

January 17th, 2011

ode  noun \ˈōd\ a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style,varying length of line, and complexity of stanza forms

while this won’t be an ode by definition, i’m calling it that anyway. i generally tend to keep sappy and emotional business off of the blog, but in an effort to be a better blogger, here’s what’s on my heart these days.

exactly a week ago today, my daddy had some major surgery. let me digress a bit.

right before thanksgiving we found out that he had prostate cancer. they assured us that they had caught it early and we knew that his type of cancer was the kind that was easily beaten. (i still cried like a baby when i found out – at work, in the file room.) whenever they find cancer, they do more tests to make sure that it hasn’t spread. a week after his first diagnosis, he was told there was something suspicious on his bladder and kidney. his bladder turned out to be fine, but his kidney was consumed by a tumor. literally. there wasn’t much room in the kidney for much else. but it was completely encased, which was a miracle, because if it had spread anywhere else, the prognosis would not have been good.

it’s strange to think that one type of cancer was actually a blessing. had they not found the prostate cancer, he would have never gotten the body scan that revealed the real evil cells lurking inside. it is an absolute MIRACLE that everything worked out the way it did. i have never seen the hand of God so evident in my family’s life. it was a glorious, albeit painful, thing to witness.

so last monday he went in to have both his prostate and kidney removed. he was nervous. he hadn’t been eating or sleeping right since he found out and it was crushing to watch. my momma-in-law and i made up a “hospital bag” for my mom. lots of things to keep her busy while she waited. our church family told my mom how many prayers had been said on their behalf and poured out their love and support. i respected my mom’s wishes and she was the lone ranger in the waiting room that day. she called me first to tell me that the surgery had started and that everything was fine. and the good news kept on coming. they were able to take both out with very little bleeding and in a shorter amount of time than anticipated.

PRAISE THE LORD! my daddy would be ok! i visited with my mom that night. he couldn’t keep his eyes open for very long and he didn’t talk too much because his mouth was dry. he kept apologizing and asking if they had gotten everything out. they did!

he came home on wednesday. yes, two days after having organs removed he came home. he has no pain. he’s walking around and eating like he used to. and while it’s not all over yet, he’s back to being my dad.

throughout the past two months we’ve all grown closer and i’ve cried more than i’d like to admit. but we’ve been surrounded by the love, prayers, and encouragement of friends and family.

thank you.

thank you Peter, for playing Connect 4 to cheer me up. and for holding me when there was nothing else left to do.

thank you to my heavenly Daddy for blessing my earthly one.

Christmas at Jefferson House

January 5th, 2011

so i know everyone else is over Christmas, but i’m not. so here’s a little photo recap.

it was yet another wonderful christmas season. lots of family parties, friends visiting, every holiday movie known to man, and cuddly nights at home. my favorite present was from peter – the camera that i forgot how much i wanted – the olympus pen. it’s so rad. and helped me capture most of these moments. i had every intention of making captions for each of the photos, but they tell a nice little story all by themselves.

i hope that your holiday was full of bright spots that keep you smiling all year long.